On paper the EV, or electric vehicle, looks ideal. You can still qualify for a grant to help you buy one, which reduces the price of a van by 20%, with absolutely no emissions from the exhaust. What many fail to realise, however, is that they rather eradicating pollution, they are actually transferring it to a different area of the carbon cycle, which smoke stack pollution replacing exhaust pollution.
Unless you have done your homework by calculating how much electricity you will use every time you recharge your EV, and have a renewable option in place to deal with this, photovoltaic panels for example, your vehicle will not be carbon neutral. Once you tap into the grid in order to recharge, you are dependent on the energy mix of the country you are living in. If you are in the UK, this is a picture that isn’t particularly rosy.
We are largely dependent on gas and coal in the UK, and is a recent survey which looked at the real impact of EV’s, the Norwegian research team took into account the EV’s carbon intensive production, with very disappointing results. Pollution is caused by producing EV’s, especially the batteries, and if you drive 100,000km, which is the average warranty of a battery, over your EV’s lifetime the benefit on the environment is a paltry 9-14% better that fuel.
Let us go back to the future for a moment. Petrol will inevitably get dirtier by needing oil to squeezed from the tar sand at a massive ecological cost while EV’s get cleaner and, as the technology becomes more mainstream, easier to produce. We are also told that the mix of the UK’s renewables will increase as, apparently, by 2020 only 11% of energy will come from coal.
Work is going on constantly to improve the performance of EV’s, such as producing heating and cooling systems that do not rely on the battery power, so although the focus is a bit blurred at the moment, it looks as if the picture will really come into focus over the next few years.